by L.J. Tang
Who are you, oh bright splendor?
Why is it you choose to confuse my mind and heart, surrounding yourself in veils and mysteries?
Confused about your essence I wander in the cosmos
Wondering whom have I adored.
Have I been fooled?
Have I granted my nights and days to a deceit?
Or Have I indeed seen your face, and however it remains arcane?
Who are you, that shudder the very foundations of my faith?
Currents of spirit and mind flow within my throat
For I have drank from your grail and it was too deep of a sip
Insane and demented
I fall into the abyss
Unbeknownst to me who has embraced me in the nocturnal silence
Lucifer is probably one of the entities that brings the most confusion to those that have penetrated in the mysteries of Magic and Witchcraft, at least among those who possess the sufficient discernment not to be deceived by the first thing they read; and Seekers of the truth, or the nearest thing to it, that feel that the presented information is insufficient.
We can follow the gnosis of others, since they can have encountered cosmic transcendental realities, but it becomes imperative to discern the information and to compare it with those historical pieces that can give us an idea of the revelations that this collective unconscious, and the cultural links to it, has to offer. To accept something without the necessary consideration, not only intellectually, but spiritually, is a risk for the complete development of the individual.
The Faith is irrational, certainly, but even in its irrationality we must have pragmatic certainty of something that can support it, like the practitioner that continues to engage in ritual because in effect the past rites have had the wished consequence, it is then when the experience, necessarily proved from something tangible, joins the belief. E.g. I have Faith in Hekate because She has given me elements to support that conviction and I, in the dialectical application of the knowledge, have confirmed, using my discernment, the veracity of such occurrences.
The key word here would be «discernment», which is defined as the judgment that allows us to determine the difference between diverse elements. The discernment for the Witch and the Magician is tied to his/her True Will, the one that comes from the communion with Our Superior Conscience and in tune with the Powers, different from the mere rational discernment of the mundane individual.
This introduction, of a rationalist kind, is necessary as a preamble for the topic of this text, which is no other that unveiling the identity and nature of the entity known as Lucifer, which is impossible not to have acquaintance, and who is intimately tied to Witchcraft.
Many people would have wondered for his origin and role in Occultism, and my assiduous readers undoubtedly will have read my references to this figure, or even to the Devil’s epithet, but only now I believe it necessary to investigate this topic in deeper manner, so it will serve to illustrate people about it and put order to ideas that have been circulating for some time; to form in writing the thoughts and experiences is always an extremely useful exercise.
We appear to have, therefore, a series of questions:
– Is Lucifer the Christian Devil?
– A terminological confusion?
– An ancient deity?
– A deception?
– Which is his relation with other deities?
– What role has Lucifer in the Art of Witchcraft?
Let’s try to give answer to these questions.
Venus and Lucifer
The name, or adjective, Lucifer, is the Latin translation of the Hebrew word hêlêl, (הֵילֵל) and in turn the equivalent in Julio Cesar’s language of the Greek word Phosphorus.
The translation of Lucifer as a name, would be ‘the first star of the morning’, clearly referencing the planet Venus, being the one that announces the arrival of the dawn, the emergence of the Sun. As an adjective, we found that it means ‘the one that brings the light’, or ‘the carrier of the light’, all that being a direct correspondence of the mentioned Hebrew term hêlêl. The Greek Phosphorus possesses equally the same significance, this is important to bear in mind; later we will see the reason.
We find the first Biblical appearance of Lucifer in the translation of the Hebrew and Greek bible to Latin, the so called Vulgata, by Jerome of Stridon, and later it remained in the famous King James version of the sacred text, a translation of the bible to English during the reign of King James I.
In the Biblical context the word Lucifer is used in reference to the prophetic death of a Babylonian King recounted in the Hebraic original form as ‘hêlêl ben šāḥar’, and translated in the King James version as “Oh Lucifer, Son of the Morning »
The complete passage, in his Anglo-Saxon presentation, says the following:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit”. (Isaiah 14:12). [italics added]
Interestingly the modern versions tend to replace Lucifer simply with «star of the morning”, which is more appropriate given the context and significance. It is important to state that, in the mentioned bible, clear reference is done not to the name of an angelic entity fallen in misfortune, but to a King of Babylon, which is compare to the planet Venus in the original Hebrew manifestation hêlêl. In the same manner Lucifer is not used as a title or nomenclature per se, but as a qualitative description.
It becomes necessary to explain that the planet Venus, at dawn, an hour or less before the Sun rises, is the most brilliant celestial body, outshining all the other stars. Venus has equally been called the Star of the Evening and shines an hour, or less, after Sunset, remaining invisible later.
Therefore, the metaphorical comparison is that, as Venus is defeated by the Sun in his rising, who in illuminating the celestial vault dissipate the planet, the King of Babylon is, in turn, defeated by YHVH. The King, in his arrogance, tried to rise as high as God, and for that he was thrown to the depths. Such matter is reflected, in an extremely interesting way, in the Canaanite myth of Attar and in the Greek story of Phaeton.
Attar was a Semitic God of fluctuating domain, changing from region to region, being that for certain settlements he was a God of war and for others of thunders, or fertility. Something in common in his different worships it was the fact that he represented the star of the morning, and evening; thus, having power over the planet Venus.
In one of the texts discovered in Ugarit is described how Attar occupies, for a season, Baal Hadad’s throne, but the position turns out to be too much for him and he must leave it and settled with governance of the Earth, or the Underworld according to other sources; though in view of the fact that he is considered to be a God of the fertility I tend to lean towards the first option.
“He (Attar) takes his seat on the throne of Baal the Mighty
His feet do not reach the footstool
His head do not reach the canopy thereof
(Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra Texts and Their Relevance to the Old Testament, 1965, p. 124). [emphasis added]
This is to a certain point similar, though in much subtler form, to the mentioned Biblical myth of the Babylonian King who is thrown to the depths, having failed in his desire to be equal to the Hebrew God in the skies. In this case Attar it is not defeated per se, but it does not possess the sufficient aptitude to occupy a throne in the Heights.
Down from the throne of Baal the Mighty
And reigns in the ground (Attar), god of it all
In the Greek cultural context, we have Phaeton (The Shining one), son of Helios and Clymene; whom the Cretans named Adymus, the Star of the Evening and the Morning. Nevertheless, he is not to be confused with Phosphorus, who in Greek mythology was the one who possessed officially the position of the Stella Matutina. Even so, the comparison of epithets between Phaeton/Adymus and Venus is interesting to say the least.
In his famous myth, Phaeton, annoyed at his friends because they did not believe his divine origin, went to see his father Helios. The powerful God, even before his scion had the opportunity to express the reason of his visit, swore to him, by the sacred river Stygia, that he would grant whatever he asked. Phaeton requested to Helios the lead of the God’s carriage for one day. Helios tried to convince his son otherwise, but Phaeton, remembering to his father the oath, and being impossible to undo something said in name of the infernal river, kept firm his decision.
Phaeton drove the carriage of the God, which was no other than the very Sun, and lost the control of it, burning great part of Africa and putting the Earth in risk, leaving no choice to Father Zeus, who had to act, fulminating Phaeton with a strike of lightning, and throwing his body in flames to the river Eridanus. Later on, Phaeton was turned into the constellation Auriga.
Impossible to not mention that for some sources Phaeton is another name for Helios himself, what would be an indication of his later substitution for Apollo as the solar regent. Anyhow, the myth is revealing in itself.
Ultimately, all these prominent mythological figures, compare one way or another to the planet Venus, are, as the heavenly body, «defeated” before reaching the highest ascending point.
The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) says, in regards to the reiterative motive of the Fallen Star, that “it is obvious that the prophet (Isaiah) in attributing to the Babylonian King boastful pride, followed by a fall, borrowed the idea from a popular legend connected with the morning star «.
One way or another, the Biblical writing demonstrates following a cultural tradition related to this fall in misfortune of a brilliant star, in this case reiteratively connected to the planet Venus. As it has been shown the word hêlêl makes undoubtedly reference to this.
Never does Isaiah refers to a Rebellious Angel, instead he compares the King of the prophecy with the ‘venusian arrogance’ of wanting to be equated with the Sun; to God in his particular case.
The Biblical Lucifer, therefore, is not a name for the Hebrew or Christian Adversary, but a title, or an adjective, used to describe a mortal man. As a preexisting entity of angelic, demonic, or supernatural, nature, it does not exist; biblical speaking of course.
However, as a divine historical subject, supported in the cultural pantheon of a civilization, is a whole different case.
Phosphorus and Lucifer
Phosphorus, or sometimes Heosphoros, was the name of a minor Greek deity, corresponding to the Star of the Morning, the planet Venus in its morning presentation. According to Hesiod he was son of Astraeus and Eos, and in turn father of Daedalion and Ceyx. The name, as I mentioned already some paragraphs behind, means ‘Light bearer’.
The Titaness Eos had another son, called Hesperus, who was the Star of the Evening, that is to say, Venus in its evening manifestation.
Phosphorus and Hesperus were considered to be brothers, each one associated with a different star; and though the Greeks eventually discovered that they were linked to the same heavenly body, that is to say, the same planet Venus in two different timetables; they continued treating them as dissimilar, and independent, beings.
|Sculpture of the Goddess Selene, possibly accompanied by the brothers Phosphorus and Hesperus|
Halbertal and Margalit (1998, p.142) argue that the reason behind it could be that the Greeks did not identify the deity with the ‘Star’ itself, and they go further to exemplify that the relation between a God and a star can be considered to be as an institution and the building in which the institution operates; so that, though the building changes, the institution, being evidently the deity, would endure and even move to another establishment.
Even so, the relation between Phosphorus/Hesperus and the planet Venus was one of intimate nature and well-known to all.
Among the Romans existed two entities of exact correspondence, and, though it is difficult to determine if they were adapted from Hellenic influence, or were part of the indigenous folklore, unfailingly they were members of the Latin pantheon.
Lucifer was Phosphorus’s Roman equivalent, whereas Vesper was in turn Hesperus’s counterpart
They are both mentioned directly by Cicero “Stella Veneris, quae Φωσφόρος Graece, Latine dicitur Lucifer, cum antegreditur solem, cum subsequitur autem Hesperos”
[The Star of Venus, so called Phosphorus in Greek, and Lucifer in Latin, when it precedes the Sun, and Hesperus when it follows it] (De Natura Deorum. II, 20, 53).
Pliny the Elder equally refers to both venusian manifestations:
Below the sun revolves a very large star named Venus, which varies its course alternately, and whose alternative names in themselves indicate its rivalry with the sun and moon; when in advance and rising before dawn it receives the name of Lucifer, as being another sun and bringing the dawn, whereas when it shines after sunset it is named Vesper. (Naturalis Historia. II, 36).
So that Phosphorus/Hesperus and Lucifer/Vesper are direct correspondences of each other among Greeks and Romans, respectively. It becomes unnecessary to indicate that we are referring to pre-Christian deities that do not have any relation with the Lucifer born of the incorrect Christian interpretation of Isaiah’s already explained metaphor.
We can affirm, therefore, that Phosphorus/Lucifer, in his quality of Hellenic and Latin deity and representation of the planet Venus, is indeed an existing entity historically.
Phosphorus/Lucifer as a Title
Having exposed Phosphorus/Lucifer’s historical existence as an ancient deity, it becomes necessary to investigate a bit more about the use of the word itself; since Phosphorus, or Lucifer, was used not only as a name to designate the entities that represented the Morning Star, and as an extension the Evening one, but equally it was used as title for diverse entities.
For that we must separate the direct relation of the term Phosphorus/Lucifer as a noumenic representation of the planet Venus, and focus in its use as an adjective and title, it is here where we will enter aspects of a more mystical and spiritual nature, and therefore less rational and more subjective.
Phosphorus/Lucifer’s etymology as an epithet, is ‘the one that brings the light’ or ‘the light bearer’, in a more simplistic way we can say that a Lucifer is one who produces some type of illumination. In our understanding it is clear that such illumination refers to a condition of spiritual elevation, an Epiphany, or a mystical occurrence. I made emphasize in ‘a’, since following this line of thought there would be many who might be called Phosphorus/Lucifer.
Example of this we have it between diverse deities that shared the epithet of Phosphorus/Lucifer:
First, we have Hephaestus, Greek God of fire, the forge and metallurgy, surrounded with mysteries and extremely interesting associations. In his quality of lord of fire, sacred mystical element, it is not surprising that he was referred to as Light Bearer (Phosphorus) in the Orphic Hymns:
Strong, mighty Vulcan [Hephaestus], bearing splendid light,
Unweary’d fire, with flaming torrents bright:
Strong-handed, deathless, and of art divine,
Pure element, a portion of the world is thine:
All-taming artist, all-diffusive pow’r,
‘Tis thine supreme, all substance to devour:
Æther, Sun, Moon, and Stars, light pure and clear,
For these thy lucid parts to men appear.
To thee, all dwellings, cities, tribes belong,
Diffus’d thro’ mortal bodies bright and strong.
Hear, blessed power, to holy rites incline,
And all propitious on the incense shine:
Suppress the rage of fires unweary’d frame,
And still preserve our nature’s vital flame
(Translation by Thomas Taylor, source hellenicgods.org) [emphasis added].
As Light bearer we can infer that Hephaestus illuminated his devotees with the knowledge of the forge and the inventions born of it. It is known between the practitioners of Traditional Witchcraft that the blacksmith Gods are deeply tied to the image of the God of the Witches, the Father of Cunning, being direct associations of his role as giver of knowledge and creativity, and naturally his everlasting relation with fire.
It would escape the limits of this work to deepen into the subject of Hephaestus, nevertheless I invite the reader to investigate more information about this Lord of Fire, whose deep relation with the initiatory mysteries exceed by much the vague conception that is usually held about the deity, and his confinement as the coarse loving companion of Aphrodite.
Similarly to Hephaestus, the Goddess Artemis was equally called by the epithet Phosphorus, this can be because of her relationship with the Moon and to the fact that she was habitually represented bearing torches. Nevertheless it is necessary to clarify that the Goddess was never seen as the Moon itself, role that corresponded to Selene. It is of great consideration the complex interwoven correspondences that suffered Artemis, Hekate and Selene, and that makes difficult to determine with accuracy if the lunar associations of first two were their own, or acquired in later identification with the third one.
Pausanias gives us a portrayal where Phosphorus is used as a title for Artemis:
The most numerous statues and the most worth seeing are to be found in the sanctuary of Asclepius. For besides statues of the god and his sons, and besides statues of Apollo, the Muses and Heracles, the city of Thebes is represented and Epaminondas the son of Cleommis, Fortune, and Artemis Phosphorus (Bringer of Light). The stone statues are the work of Damophon – I know of no other Messenian sculptor of merit apart from him-; the statue of Epaminondas is of iron and the work of some other artist. (Description of Greece. IV, XXXI and 10). [emphasis added].
Whether Artemis’s lunar characteristics were own, or adapted, her role as a Phosphorus was known in antiquity; Pausanias’s reference is a convincing allegation to believe it. Her symbols were the arch and the arrow, the hunting dog, the torches, the deer and the Moon, and in her later worship the symbol of the Waxing moon was added to this compendium, maybe given her identification with the Goddess Selene.
Artemis is the protector of women and animals, huntress Goddess par excellence, and we might argue that, part of her luciferian role, represents the radiance of the beams of the Moon that offer clarity, safety, guide and truth in the blackness of the night… would she be the rays of Moonlight, as her twin brother Apollon is the sunbeams?
This might be related to her title as Phoebe (radiant, prophetic), used in her role as lunar Goddess, the feminine of Phoebus (brilliant), the Sun, and one of the more well-known epithets of Apollon.
Ovid mentions the divine Artemis with this title:
These words Phoebe, she of the darts, bade me in my dreams to write you; these words in my waking hours Love bade me write. The arrows of the one of them have already wounded me; that the darts of the other wound not you, take heed! Your safety is joined with mine – have compassion on me and on yourself. (Herodias. XX, 229).
The word Phosphorus seems like a sister term applicable to Phoebe, in view of its basic significance as «the one that brings light». The relation of the Goddess with torches, widespread symbol of gnosis, protection, lighting and guide, seem to tie her undeniably to a role of an intellectual and spiritual luminary.
This aspect of Artemis like Goddess of Light goes hand in hand with her cultural Roman correspondence, I am speaking certainly about the Goddess Diana, an Italian indigenous deity, with a solid cult in Nemi, wherefrom she obtained her Diana Nemorensis’s title (Diana of Nemi), she was associated with Artemis and, like happened with the rest of the Latin Gods, was syncretized with her, adopting her characteristics and correspondences.
Diana, as her Greek counterpart, was associated with the Moon and with torches; in fact one of the most spectacular Roman festivals, where the torches played a central role, was in her honor.
The Nemoralia, or Festival of Torches, was celebrated in the Full moon of August, or on August 13-15 according to some sources. Considered, very adequately, the major celebration in honor of Diana, where she was exalted sumptuously by hundreds of devotees, who formed a procession of torches around the lake of Nemi, called the speculum Dianae, Diana’s mirror.
Ovid gives us a description of the celebration: In the Arician vale there is a lake begirt by shady woods and hallowed by religion of old […] The long fence is draped with hanging threads, and many a tablet there attests the merit of the goddess. Often doth a woman, whose prayer has been answered, carry from the City burning torches, while garlands wreathe her brows. The strong of hand and fleet of foot do there reign kings, and each is slain thereafter even as himself has slain. A pebbly brook flows down with fitful murmur; oft have I drunk of it, but in little sips. (Fasti. III, 259-275).
|Lake of Nemi, by John Robert Cozens. Century XVIII|
The Festival of Torches enjoyed such popularity that, being impossible to excise it from the psyche of the common people, the Catholic Church imposed The Feast of the Assumption, in honor of the Virgin Mary, on August 15th.
This association of Diana with torches is undoubtedly related to the same Greek tradition for the goddess Artemis, and it speaks to us about similar correspondences relative to illuminate darkness, a guide among the shadows and, possibly, a close link to knowledge of the Mysteries. It is this role the one that most certainly gives reason to the title of Diana Lucifera, Diana the ‘Light Bringer’.
We have record of the existence of such appellative thanks to the Roman Empress Faustina the Younger, who apparently was a devotee of Diana Lucifera according to the artistic work ‘Favstinae Consecratio’ (Faustina’s Consecration); in which we see her being taken, after her death, by Diana, the Torchbearer, i.e. Diana Lucifera/Phosphorus:
Faustina herself, having been honored in the form of coins with her face, in which she was called Diva Faustina, was accompanied in the inverse side of the currency by Diana’s image as Torchbearer (Lucifera):
In the same manner we see extremely ancient Roman coins of 42nd century B.C., during the period of the Republic, representing the God Apollon on one hand and Diana Lucifera, holding two torches, on the other:
Returning to the subject of the Greek equivalent of Lucifer, we found that Dionysius was equally named by the Phosphorus epithet; such matter is hardly surprising, considering his role as a great deity of the Mysteries, with cults so old that make him into one of the most important Gods of the ancient world.
His position as a pre-eminent deity of arcane knowledge, particularly in the Eleusinian Mysteries, link him specially to a role of luciferian entity; a guide to the divine mysteries of ascension and spiritual purification, a being of illumination that removes the ignorance and indicates the way towards the holistic accomplishment.
This is indicated to us by the comedian Aristophanes in one of his passages, in which a choir invokes Dionysus during a ceremony:
Awake, for it has come tossing torches in hand,
Iacchus, Oh Iacchus,
the light-bringing star [Phosphorus] of our nocturnal rite.
Now the meadow brightly burns
Old men’s knees start to sway.
They shake away their pains
and the long cycles of ancient years
Through your holy rite.
Beaming with your torch,
lead forth to the flowering stretch of marsh
the youth that makes your choruses, o blessed one!
(The Frogs. 342). [brackets added]
Here we see a Dionysus who, through his torches, illuminates the darkness of the rites, bringing happiness where the sadness reigned; youth and rebirth where old age and resignation laid. Indeed, a bearer of light, freedom and divine ecstasy.
In the same quote we meet the name Iacchus, identified with Dionysus’s figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries, being him the one bearing the torch in the procession from Athens to Eleusis. A herald of the son of the Goddess of the mystery cult, or the son himself, depending on the manifestation or presented face.
|The Ninnion Tablet (370 B.C.) We can see Iacchus (Dionysus) leading the procession as he holds the torches. Demeter and Persephone welcome the multitude.|
Hekate herself, Goddess of Witchcraft par excellence and initiatrix in the Mysteries of the Arte, is referred as Phosphorus by Euripides in his tragic play Helen, where Menelao expresses ‘Oh Hecate, giver of light, send thy visions favorably!’ (Helen. 569). [italics added].
Hekate’s images carrying torches, and connecting her with the epithet Phosphorus, are varied:
|Hekate and the giant Klytios. From theoi.com|
|Hekate, accompanied by Demeter, welcomes Persephone, who is escorted out of Hades by Hermes. From theoi.com|
|Hekate Phosphorus, with Hercules and the Hellhound Cerberus. From theoi.com|
Finally, we have the use of Lucifer as an epithet for Jesus of Nazareth. In the following verses we can observe the mention of the Messiah as the Stella Matutina. The words are presented in English, but in the original Latin the term used is Lucifer:
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19). [emphasis added].
In the Book of Revelation, there is a series of verses, as well, that guide us to Jesus presented as the Light bearer.
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (Revelation 2:26)
That one will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery, just as I have received authority from my Father (Revelation 2:27)
And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28) (italics added)
Jesus himself says in the Book of Revelation that » I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. (Revelation 22:16). [italics added].
All this allows us to conclude that, with no doubt, the word Phosphorus/Lucifer, when not employed to refer to the minor Greek and Roman deities directly identified with the Stella Matutina, i.e. Phosphorus-Hesperus, is perfectly applicable to any deity or entity that has any characteristic related to initiation into the Mysteries; journeys of discovery; dissipation of ignorance; divine illumination; rebirth; redemption or guide.
The possibilities for applying the term as a descriptive adjective, or as an epithet, are infinite.
Having made this historical revision and deepened into the anthropologic and cultural nature of the treated term, is time to go on to the use of Lucifer in Witchcraft.
Lucifer in Witchcraft
|The Witches’ Sabbath, Francisco de Goya (1797-1798)|
In the Art of Witchcraft one of the names that has been given to the God of the Witches, the Master of the Tradition, is Lucifer. I will omit the already known accusations of the Catholic Church, during Medieval times, regarding the adoration of Satan, or Lucifer, by witches; it is a topic well known and is not useful in this work, we will focus instead in the use of the term within Traditional Witchcraft, from the perspective of a practitioner of the Arte, to the margin of the vain considerations of the big monotheistic religions.
His more famous mention in the context of Witchcraft is undoubtedly in the work of Charles Leland: Il Vangelo delle Streghe (1899). In the text, supposed proof of the existence of a living witch cult in Italy, Diana, as Creation Goddess, divides herself and creates her brother and consort Lucifer, originating the Light in the Universe:
Diana was the first created before all creation; in her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light. (The Gospel of the Witches, Cap. III)
In the text Lucifer appears as a deity split from Diana; being the first cosmic light, and who, like the common Christian conception, was expelled from Heaven by his arrogance:
Diana greatly loved her brother Lucifer, the god of the Sun and of the Moon, the god of Light (Splendor), who was so proud of his beauty, and who for his pride was driven from Paradise. (The Gospel of the Witches, Cap. I)
We can see here as pagan and Christian themes merge, giving origin to a syncretic cosmology.
The veracity of Leland’s text is in deep question and is opened to debate whether the information in his book really belongs to the religious beliefs of a living Witch cult in Tuscany, or if it was written entirely by Leland himself thanks to his knowledge of folklore. The influence of the Gospel of the Witches in modern witchcraft and paganism is palpable without a doubt.
The incorporation of the figure of Lucifer as a solar God is opposite to the position of the luciferian deities seen in our historical revision, as we will analyze later; and his expulsion from paradise, thanks to his narcissism, goes in synchronicity with the negative features of the Sun both in Astrology and in Hermetic Qabalah, being Beauty the highest and desired virtue, and Arrogance / narcissism the lowest of the Sphere.
Certainly, the use of the word Lucifer in the text is vague, it appears as a proper name and nevertheless it refers to a solar deity, and because of that not identifiable with the Roman Lucifer, representative of the planet Venus in its morning guise. We have seen that the word Lucifer, when not used to refer to the Latin minor deity, it is a title or a descriptive adjective, and that’s why its use in Aradia’s Gospel is incomplete. The Lucifer mentioned by Leland cannot be but a variation of the misinterpreted Isaiah’s Biblical Lucifer. His narcissism, arrogance and consistent expulsion from Paradise confirms it.
If it’s true that Il Vangelo delle Streghe is really the testimony of a living witch cult in Tuscany, it is easily assumable that such Covenant was deeply influenced by Christian beliefs; Aradia’s role as a redeemer is extremely clarifying in such a case; and the belief in Lucifer an alteration of the same Biblical personage.
This should not be strange to us, since the syncretism between pagan and Christian beliefs in covens, or in individual witches, was extremely common.
Traditional Witchcraft has taken imagery both from European polytheism and Christianity, which is natural, given it’s a live tradition, susceptible to suffering certain changes over time; the use of the epithet Devil to call the God of the Witches in diverse recensions is proof of it. This must not suggest that Traditional Witchcraft accepts the prerogatives of Christianity or that it flirts with its ontological philosophy, but simply uses such an imagery for its magic practical use, thanks to the power of the Collective Unconscious, and for poetical or aesthetic reasons; saving those manifestations that have embrace the Christian paradigm and that carry a familiar tradition of course.
Nevertheless, when using terms is imperative that we understand them close to perfection; their origin and proper application has to go hand in hand. To perform a rite, ceremony, or enchantment, without the complete understanding of the instruments or used words, is not only irresponsible but it cuts out the complete scope of the ritual and the development of the practitioner.
The Master of the Arte is a deity eminently luciferian, is the one that brings knowledge; reveals mysteries; serves as guide in the Craft; makes pacts; and opens to the practitioner the treasures of the Tradition. The term Lucifer, or Phosphorus if the Greek form is to be used, is perfectly applicable as an epithet or adjective, preferably if it accompanies the appropriated name of the representation of the Master within the specific tradition or magical Current.
To summon Lucifer in a rite, without the suitable specification, it would be like to call upon, very literally, to ‘a’ indeterminate Light Bearer; or in any case, and depending on the spiritual and mental development, conscious or unconscious, of the Magician/Witch; to Isaiah’s Christian egregor.
Phosphorus/Lucifer in reference to the God of the Witches is therefore a title or epithet, not a first name per se. This follows the cultural lineament that we have been studying.
|Prometheus brings fire to mankind, Heinrich Fueger (circa 1817)|
On the other hand, we find that Lucifer, in certain magical Currents, has been equaled to Prometheus in his quality of bearer of knowledge and divine figure that rebels against the plans of the patriarchal and supreme figure of the cosmic order; in the case of Prometheus, Zeus, and in the case of Lucifer, Yahve; being He the one who, contrary to the plans of the Great Father, offers the Fire (Prometheus) to humanity; or invite it to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge (Lucifer as the Serpent in the Garden of Eden). The above-mentioned perspective has been taken very literally by practitioners of the Left-Hand Path.
In Witchcraft this is different, since, as already has been pointed out, the use of Christian imagery tends to be merely magical, aesthetic or poetic, not existentialist. In the same way that the figure of the Adversary is used as a ritualistic formula, being Chumbley one of the most famous adherents to it. The concatenated myth of Lucifer/Prometheus is used as a story through which diverse magical formulae can be structured.
The allegory of Lucifer as a Rebellious Angel, or promethean figure, is merely an aesthetic and romantic instrument through which to guard, or veil, transcendental mysteries of the Craft. Naturally, to do it right, deep philosophical knowledge of the Arte is needed, and an advanced understanding of the Mysteries.
If we wish to look more trustworthy references of a Fallen Angel, which precede the erroneous interpretation of Isaiah’s Lucifer, we might wish to investigate the Hebrew Azazel, or the Yezidi Melek Taus. However, this would remove us from the ethos of this essay.
The properly weighted syncretism, using specific symbolism, as a way to hint secrets of the Arte, is a very ancient practice, which requires skill, knowledge and cunning. All this must be realized without losing the essential base of the question, with the always present risk of not bequeathing adequately the arcana of the Craft.
Lucifer/Phosphorus’s employment within Witchcraft, when not used as a syncretic symbolism or romantic image, it is then similar to the descriptive use of it in the pre-Christian age, serving as an epithet or title for some of the Witch Gods.
The Solar God who was not
Now let us inquire into the solar association that Lucifer has had in certain circles; in which he is seen, and undoubtedly by inspiration of the myth presented in the Gospel of the Witches, as a solar God; and by others as the Black Sun, the latter being very popular among northern occultist currents of luciferian paganism. This is, certainly, a prolongation and mutation of the vision of the Biblical Lucifer.
We must start by the fact that being a deity of mystical illumination, or guide in the Mysteries, doesn’t necessarily means to be a solar entity; just how being a divine entity linked to fire does not stablishes an unfailingly link to the Sun.
Loki, for example, was the God of Fire in northern mythology, and nevertheless he was not the God of the Sun, place that corresponded to the Goddess Sunna. The same case applies for Hephaestus in the Greek paradigm, or for the Roman Vulcan.
The ecstatic Dionysus, a luciferian deity of the Mysteries as we have seen, and one that allows the rebirth of the Initiated, possesses characteristics that mark him as a fundamentally chthonic God, though he appears as a redeeming figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
I cannot neglect recommending Geosophia: The Argo of Magic, by Jake Stratton Kent; the deep historical analysis of the author in regards to the God is invaluable.
The Night Queen Hekate possessed the titles Chthonia (of the Earth/under the Earth) and Phosphorus simultaneously, her antagonistic relation with the Sun was such that She was called ‘enemy of the day’, as it demonstrates the record of pagan beliefs done by Hippolytus of Rome:
Come, infernal, terrestrial, and heavenly Bombo [Hecate], goddess of the broad roadways, of the crossroad, thou who goest to and fro at night, torch in hand, enemy of the day. Friend and lover of darkness, thou who doest rejoice when the bitches are howling and warm blood is spilled, thou who art walking amid the phantom and in the place of tombs, thou whose thirst is blood, thou who dost strike chill fear into mortal hearts, Gorgo, Mormo, Moon of a thousand forms, cast a propitious eye upon our sacrifice.(Philosophumena. IV, XXXV). [emphasis added].
If we bear in mind the historic and cultural revision that we have done in reference to Phosphorus/Lucifer’s use as title, we will find that none of the analyzed entities was of a solar nature, with the exception of Jesus of Nazareth and the cabbalistic associations with which he is commonly identified. None of the notable Gods had direct filiations with the Sun.
Repeatedly we have seen that Lucifer/Phosphorus, and by extension Vesper/Hesperus, as a proper name of a deity, is related to the planet Venus; in fact, and going further, we might even say that the Sun is an antagonist of the god.
The Star of the Morning is born before the Golden Sun emerge in the East, and again it arises as the Star of the Evening, shortly after the Sun hides itself in the West.
So, the association of Lucifer, as an individual deity, with the Sun, is therefore inadequate; in any case he would be a Venusian entity if we keep his relationship with the planetary sphere and as the historical Greco-Roman divinity.
Going to the relation of Lucifer with the Black Sun, we need first to rule out the neo-Nazi association, it would be an unnecessary digression to enter into the topic of national socialist esoterism, sufficient to say that the term ‘Black Sun’ is mostly used inside certain groups in the western occultism to refer to pseudo esoteric beliefs within the Third Reich, beliefs that do not have historical or cultural support of any kind.
The existence of a Black Sun, outside the world of Nazi occultism, can be found in the subjective interpretation of mythological information. For example, in the Aztec culture, in which we have the journey to the Underworld of the solar God Huitzilopochtli, as soon as he descended through the Gate of the West at the end the day; in his odyssey into darkness Huitzilopochtli gave light to the forgotten souls.
This might be extrapolated symbolically to any solar deity, including the Egyptian Ra during his night voyage, which ends with Apophis’s defeat and the rise of a new dawn. In both cases the Sun of Gold and the Black Sun continue to be the same, only the scene and context is different, manifesting in the Underworld with another face.
Unnecessary to say that such interpretations, though subjective, are rich in mystical and esoteric content.
Certainly, as we already have indicated, given the wide spectrum of the word Lucifer, or Phosphorus, it very well might be used by the modern practitioner to refer to some solar deity in his/her quality of Bringer/Bearer of Light, in this case very literally and stating a direct link to the solar beams. For example, Apollon might be called Phosphorus by some. Nevertheless, we invite to have in consideration the forms of the term and its application throughout history. In the same way as, traditional offerings must be respected as possible, likewise this applies regarding the utilization of titles and epithets.
I think that we have answered the questions that we raised at the beginning of this essay, throwing light, if you allow me to say so, upon the controversial nature of Lucifer; removing incorrect interpretations that have the habit of taking root in the great majority of those who begin in these magical occupations. And though there exist a great number of topics that can branch from the central study of this work, the treated points are sufficient to have a clear notion over the historical figure of the Light Bearer, as well as the possible practical applications.
When calling Phosphorus/Lucifer it will be necessary to have conscience of who is being invoked, if it is referred directly to the Roman and Hellenic Gods associated with the Star of the Morning and the Evening; or as a complementary title to the name of a deity; or even as a romantic and poetical allegory. Such a question will be crucial to penetrate into the Mysteries, to elaborate personal gnostic notions, and to enter in contact with the Powers.
Maybe at the end, we ourselves could be called Lucifer, with the aspiration of carrying torches of guidance and knowledge, as so many Gods who possessed the title did, and do, in turn.
Bibliographic references and quoted papers:
– Atsma, A. (n.d.). Consulted on November 30 2014, from
– Cicerón. (45 a. C.). De Natura Deorum.
-Euripides. (412 a. C.). Helen
– Gray, J. (1965). The Legacy of Canaan: the Ras Shamra texts and their relevance to the Old Testament. Netherlands: E.J. Brill.
– Halbertal, M. & Margalit, H. (1998). Idolatry (Naomi Goldblum, trans.). Harvard University Press.
-Hippolyte of Rome (3 d. C.). Philosophumena.
-Lavalle, R. (Ed.) (2009). Himnos Órficos. Buenos Aires
-Leland, C. (1899). Il Vangelo delle Streghe.
-Pausanias. (n.d.). Description of Greece. Book IV. Consulted on April 2018, from http://www.theoi.com/Text/Pausanias4B.html
– Pliny the Elder. (77 a. C.). Naturalis Historia
– Ovid. (2001). Fasti (Bartolomé Segura, trans.). Madrid: Gredos
-Ovid. (2011). Las Heroidas (Diego de Mexía, trans.) [ PDF]. Alicante: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. (Orinal work published in 1884).
– Singer, I. (Ed.) (1906). The Jewish encyclopedia; a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day. New York: Funk and Wagnalls
– Taylor, T. (1896) The Hymns of Orpheus. London: Bertram Dobell